The Big Thrill Discusses VERSIONS OF THE TRUTH With Glenn A. Bruce
Christian Malle’s drug-dealing father disappeared 15 years ago and left then teenaged Christian a fortune. His loving mother died of cancer ten years ago and left him an empty heart. His girlfriend dumped him for his own brother, and was murdered in broad daylight on South Beach one year ago today—leaving him nothing but questions.
Why was Christian’s cop brother dating her just before she died? Who were the two high-priced assassins in the car with her and why did Castro and Chavez let them come to the U.S.? Who killed them all and why? Mainly: what really happened with his father back then, and what did his brother have to do with it? Will Christian’s new girlfriend offer any hope, or just cloud the salt water of his soul?
Author Glen A. Bruce recently spent time with The Big Thrill to discuss his latest espionage thriller, VERSIONS OF THE TRUTH.
Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?
That’s an easy one. This book started out as a screenplay after I “saw” a whole cloth opening scene where a blacked-out Rolls Royce is inching through weekend midday traffic on Ocean Boulevard in South Beach. I had a clear vision of the visually complicated and intricate black-ops attack that results in the fiery death of the protagonist’s recently-ex girlfriend. He isn’t there to witness the scene, but he relives it over and over in his head, which ultimately becomes the driving factor for the rest of the book.
On a similar side note, I had written everything up to Act III, but had no idea where to go, how to end it. The screenplay sat idle for several months. Then, one evening, lying in bed awaiting sleep, every bit of Act III came to me. I got up and scribbled it down, the major points, and over the next few days added it to me screenplay, verbatim. It still stands in the novel pretty much exactly as I imagined it that night.
A novel is such a major undertaking; there’s the writing of it, of course, then you’re spending months and months revising, polishing, and then promoting it. How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?
Because I love Miami and this “spy” story.
When you first created your protagonist for this book, did you see an empty space in crime lit that you wanted to fill? What can you share about the inspiration for that character?
That’s an interesting question because I didn’t have a protagonist when I started! I had that complicated opening action sequence, but no “living” character in the rest of the book was there or involved in it. So, I’m actually not sure how I invented Christian Malle (“bad Christian” as someone points out in the book). But I’m guessing at some point he just came to me. It’s odd because the opening and ending came to be so clearly that I still remembered seeing them in my mind’s eye then writing them up as seen. But how I evolved Christian, his brother Robbie, their missing father Alex, and Christian’s old flame Dr. Ellie Elizondo, is somewhat of a mystery. Or not. That is to say, I’ve always been a seat-of-your-pants writer. I never use cards or outlines for the first pass. It all just comes to me as I go along. That can, of course, present problems later, tying elements together, going back to fix events to conform with later situations, etc. Mistakes can be many when writing this way! But it works for me. And, in the end, Christian Malle (and the rest of the cast for that matter, even the bad guys) is one of my favorite characters I’ve ever written. I suspect this is because he represents something or someone I would like to have been in real life—rich, smart, and determined. Alas, I’m just a writer.
In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?
The loving details of Miami are an integral part of this novel, which I hope readers will enjoy whether they know Miami or not. But of course, I hope they get lost in the mysteries and intrigue. I spent a long time getting the middle right—actually everything after the wild opening action sequence—and that swiftly moving, surprise ending. It all came together in a way that none of my other works have, and the results are exactly what I wanted, which is not always the case when we set out to write, right?! But this one works on every level that I wanted and intended. So, I hope readers get sucked along into the story, are fooled here and there, and can’t wait to get to the next chapter to find out what’s going to happen. For all the inspired kind of one-thought opening/ending sequences, this one has more intrigue and twists than just about anything I’ve written. For that, I am proud and hopeful that readers will agree.
What can you share about what you’re working on next?
I’m finishing the third in a series of books with female protagonists that run the gamut from an old, eccentric woman turning out to be something other than she seems to the young female she’s “stalking,” a plain Midwestern factory worker who becomes “The Sexiest Woman in the World,” and a woman of indeterminate age who is remembering events that may or may not be real while contemplating whether or not she should go on living.
Longtime WGA and ITW member Glenn A. Bruce, MFA, is the author of twenty-seven traditionally published novels from DSP, World Castle Books, Raven Tales, and Evolved Publishing. He’s had over fifty short stories and essays published around the world, along with a few decent poems. He is known for his rapid style and humor, along with sharp dialogue and clean prose in the style of Elmore Leonard and James Patterson—with a touch of Kurt Vonnegut Jr. thrown in for good measure. Glenn began his career in Hollywood where he wrote the hit movie Kickboxer, plus Cyborg Cop and Victor One, episodes of Walker: Texas Ranger, Baywatch, and the original G.L.O.W. Show, and sketches for Cinemax’s Assaulted Nuts. He taught screenwriting at Appalachian State University for over a dozen years and currently lives in Florida where he writes in a variety of genres and just completed his 45th novel.
To learn more about the author, please visit his website.
VERSIONS OF THE TRUTH With Glenn A. Bruce